The Odyssey has sunk to new lows with their latest ‘anti-feminism, pro-family’ rant
Another day, another horrendous article posted by The Odyssey designed to push reactionary views for clicks. This time, it’s entitled “I’m The Girl Who’d Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign.” This article came out yesterday and has already garnered thousands of shares on Facebook. Not only are the claims in this article regressive and ill-supported, but it is rife with contradictions that ultimately render it devoid of any credibility at all.
At first, the author appears to lend a bit of support to women engaging in public support of feminist causes (albeit a bit acerbically) by writing:
“Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?
“Nope, no thank you.”
However, just in these opening lines, she has already revealed a fundamental misunderstanding of feminism. The feminist movement is not simply a “tight-knit family of the same gender,” but rather is made up by individuals of all genders (and races, religions, nationalities, political affiliations, etc.). Despite this egregious mischaracterization, the author appears to lead with the more moderate stance that although she herself does not engage in feminist protest, she takes no issue with those who do, and even applauds their willingness to stand up for their views. But the author soon qualifies her prior statement by adding in her completely untenable argument about why feminism is no longer needed. She writes:
“I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.
“For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.”
This is where any shred of credibility the author was holding onto is lost. First, she makes the claim that “many women before [her]” have already achieved an egalitarian society. I take several issues with this statement. I’d like to point out that the United States is not the only country in which feminists have made strides and continue to defy deeply ingrained cultural norms and even risk their lives and freedom by advocating for equality (think Malala Yousafzai and Lydia Cacho). However, since the author seems to be exclusively considering women’s rights in the US, I’ll respond through that lens.
Yes, American women have had the right to vote for almost a century. However, our representation in government is still sorely lacking, and as of 2016, women held only 23 percent of US governmental offices. The November 2016 election painted a clear picture of some of the challenges American women still face while running for political office. Hillary Clinton was widely criticized in ways her male counterparts were not, being called “cold,” “calculating,” “shrill,” and of course “a bitch.” Meanwhile Donald Trump downplayed his misogynistic comments as “jokes” and “locker-room talk,” and was virtually unscathed by numerous allegations of sexual assault.
The author also asserts that women of the past have given today’s women a “voice” and “equality.” Unfortunately, women aren’t simply granted an equal platform from which to express our views. We don’t begin with the same level of assumed credibility and respect that men enjoy. This means we frequently must put in extra care to ensure that what we say is actually heard. We worry about the pitch of our voice, the length of our skirt, and our past sexual relationships or reputations, all of which are unjustly used all too often to discredit our arguments and undermine our authority.
The author then claims that women and men have achieved equal pay in the US. This is simply not the case. Many try to discredit feminists by claiming the gender pay gap is a “myth,” but the fact remains that an American woman earns 80 cents for every dollar an American man earns. The gap exists at every level of education and for every race (and is even greater for women of color), and increases as women advance in their careers. The US clearly still has a way to go in terms of equal pay, especially since back in March 2017, President Trump signed an executive order revoking Obama’s 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces order.
After all this, the author makes some statements drawing from her own experience of allegedly knowing more female than male businesspeople, STEM majors, and managers. Honestly, I highly doubt that the author decided to tally all the people she knew in these positions and compare the numbers, and if she does really know more women in these fields, it is probably because she simply knows and interacts with more women overall. In any case, even if this is true in the author’s life, it is certainly not the case for society at large. She is making a sweeping claim that women have achieved workplace equality by calling upon her own subjective experiences with the people she personally knows. I should not have to explain why this doesn’t count as anything close to actual evidence to bolster her claims.
Next, the article’s biggest contradiction of all comes into play. Addressing the same women she said “good for them” about before, who the author believes comprise the feminism “family,” she commands:
“Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It’s dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.
“All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It’s our rightful duty to our sisters.”
So, despite what she said previously, the author is now telling her female contemporaries to stop protesting and being strong and forceful in their beliefs regarding equality, because it makes her feel insulted and insecure. She’s saying that standing up for equal rights is “dividing our sisterhood.”
Again, feminism isn’t a “sisterhood” where women come together harmoniously and agree on everything. Feminism is for anyone who believes in equality between the sexes. Yes, that can certainly include women who choose to be stay-at-home mothers or homemakers; your occupation does not define whether you are a feminist. Yes, there is a lot of noise around getting women into positions of power, as we have traditionally been excluded and underrepresented in these areas. But feminism isn’t about telling women who or what they must or even should be or do. It’s about forging a path for women to do and be anything by fighting against sexism in all its forms.
In fact, the one who’s telling women they should be a certain way is the author herself. She writes:
“The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don’t get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.”
The author is clearly providing a pretty rigid description of what she believes to be the proper roles of man and woman, and more specifically, husband and wife. Here, she ignores and excludes relationships and families that do not fit this “traditional” mold, as well as attempts to use her religion to reinforce the gender norms regarding women being “gentle and caring” (presumably, she does not consider feminist protesters as such). She attempts (poorly) to shield herself against criticism by saying that the idea of wives submitting to their husbands “can be interpreted in so many ways,” but fails to elaborate on how that can possibly be interpreted in a way consistent with gender equality.
Finally, the author ends her article brimming with inconsistencies in thought and position with (surprise, surprise) another contradiction. Despite just having asserted that men and women were “made” for certain, distinct roles, she claims she respects whatever path in life a woman chooses to take, and imparts this wisdom: “It doesn’t matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.”
After actively telling women to stop fighting for equality and pushing that the idea that men and women have strictly defined roles, the author tries to act conciliatory and smooth everything over by mentioning “girl power.” Sorry, that just isn’t going to cut it. If “girl power” means silencing those who take a stand against inequality in order to pacify those who believe women should be a gentle and submissive “sisterhood,” then I am one woman who can certainly do without it.